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Motorsports: NCS ready for season of thrills

North Central Speedway is schedule to open Saturday.

Cars race around a turn at North Central Speedway.
Cars race around a turn at North Central Speedway from May 2021.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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Cliff Sasker, in his 22nd season as North Central Speedway owner, is dealing with weather conditions but looking forward the opening of the 2022 racing season Saturday, April 30th at North Central Speedway.

The cars will fire and the drivers will begin racing at 6:45 p.m.. Gates open at 5 p.m. with free parking and there will also be backstretch tailgating, which gained popularity during the COVID-19 seasons of 2020 and 2021. The cost for the vehicle parking in those spots is $15 per spot.

For adults, the cost is $15 for the night’s entertainment. Children ages 7-17 admission is $7 per person and children 6 and under are free.

Velvet Dostal, who has worked at the track for a number of years is now co-promoter along with Sasker. Dostal and Sasker have updated the facility for the coming season. The food menu is updated with a new burger basket and the kitchen operation underwent a makeover with updated flooring.

Two large-screen televisions will allow fans to view the race while purchasing food at the concession stand. Dostal said there are a number of good sponsorship opportunities remaining for people and businesses looking for a way to highlight their services.

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On the track, six different racing classes will compete each Saturday night. For opening night, the Micro Sprints will join the action.

The IMCA Sport Compacts featured 37 total cars in last season’s points race. In the end, Greg Kohl defeated his brother Nathan Kohl to win the points championship. Greg won’t be returning this season leaving the field wide open for drivers like Jenna Hagemann, Kaleb Ruikka and Harry Ruikka who finished in the top five last year.

Last season was one to remember for IMCA Hobby Stock driver Brandon Bombardo. He won seven of the 17 features he competed in last season to earn th season points title. Scott Herron placed second. Another driver to watch is Dave Johnson, who won four times while finishing in 10th place overall.

The IMCA Stock Car class gained traction in its first full season as a racing class. Veteran driver Tim Gonska claimed the points championship with two wins. Kris Peterson won four times while Aaron Johnson took three checkered flags.

Tommy Bawden had the best year of any driver with nine wins, but Chad Funt secured the points championship for the Mod Four Class. This class will feature many veteran drivers this season.

David Siercks and Jake Hagemann battled all summer for the IMCA Sport Mod class title. Siercks topped Hagemann by 19 points and Jacob Jordan by 20. Siercks and Hagemann each won two features. Mark Martini accumulated four feature wins.

In the WISSOTA Stock class, Dustin Nelson withstood a challenge from Dylan Nelson with just five points separating the two drivers. Dustin Nelson and Tim Johnson each tallied three wins with Dylan Nelson grabbed five checkered flags.

The Expert Insulation IMCA Modified was the last race each night meaning it experienced a slick track surface. Aaron Johnson had a break-out season with four wins and 17 top-5 finishes in 17 feature appearances. That consistency landed him the championship by nine points over Shawn Fletcher who held the checkered flag eight times.

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Other highlighted nights for the upcoming season will be the 2nd Annual Ron Johnson Memorial May 21.

For the kids, Meet the Drivers Night will be June 4 and Back to School Night is scheduled for Aug. 6. The Vintage cars and the Micro Sprints will also make appearances during the season. Two other featured nights will be the NCS Knockout, with belts on the line, July 9. and the Mid-Summer Hobby Stock Tour July 30.

It will all culminate with the Season Championship night Aug. 27 and the 21st Annual Mighty Axe Nationals to close the season Sept. 3 and 4.

North Central Speedway

What: WISSOTA and IMCA dirt tracking racing

Where: North Central Speedway, Barrows

When: Saturday, April 30, 6:45 p.m.

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